How Netflix has changed the global entertainment industry

How Netflix has changed the global entertainment industry
  • Dominant streamer Netflix continues to rewrite the playbook for global entertainment.
  • The company drove other major media conglomerates to launch streaming services of their own.

Since Netflix began its worldwide expansion in 2016, the streaming service has rewritten the playbook for global entertainment — from TV to film, and, more recently, video games.

Hollywood used to export most global hit series and movies. Now, thanks to Netflix's investments in international TV and film, programs like South Korea's "Squid Game," Spain's "Money Heist," and France's "Lupin" are finding massive audiences around the world. And Netflix's English-language original series, such as Shonda Rhimes' "Bridgerton," Ryan Murphy's "Dahmer," and Tim Burton's "Wednesday," have broken the streamer's internal streaming viewership records.

Even as writers' and actors' strikes have shut down Hollywood production, and other streamers rack up losses, Netflix has been riding high. After a dip in 2022, its stock has soared in 2023 and it's making headway with its crackdown on password sharing and its ad-supported subscription tier.

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Netflix's impact on the global TV industry remains undeniable.

How Netflix disrupted the global TV industry

The streamer figured out that to thrive on an international stage it needed both US mass-market programming like "Stranger Things" as well as local content that could win over viewers in specific markets (and produce breakout hits).


The strategy helped the streaming service grow its customer base to 238 million global paid subscribers.

Its momentum also reinvigorated production in places like Germany, Mexico, and India, as companies like Amazon, Disney, WarnerMedia, and Apple follow Netflix's lead.

More on Netflix's effect on global TV:

The streamer's executive team was rebuilt with a global focus

After breaking all of Hollywood's rules and disrupting everything about the entertainment industry, Netflix — since its first-ever subscriber loss — has been breaking its own rules, reversing its stances on password sharing and advertising.

It also carried out a change of the guard, elevating Greg Peters to co-CEO alongside Ted Sarandos in January as cofounder Reed Hastings moved to executive chair.


Meanwhile, TV head Bela Bajaria was named chief content officer, a title formerly held by Sarandos, with film chief Scott Stuber reporting to her.

Peters earlier had hired a new talent chief with international experience, former PepsiCo executive Sergio Ezama, to lead Netflix's global workforce.

The company also formed an elite team of interdisciplinary execs to help make its biggest decisions. Known internally as the "Lstaff" — the "L" stands for leadership — the 25-member group sits between the company's officers and its larger executive corps of vice presidents and above, who are called the "Estaff."

More on Netflix's corporate structure:

Netflix has seen its first wide layoffs, though it continues to grow

The corporate restructuring hasn't been without obstacles. The company in April 2022 laid off 25 full-time staffers in its marketing department, which included the dismissal of some writers at recently launched fan site Tudum, followed by another 150 cuts last May and the elimination of 30 animation jobs last September. Layoffs for all of 2022 impacted at least 450 full-time Netflix staffers and dozens of contractors as the broader media and entertainment space grapples with a bear market.


Still, the company's growth has generally made it a desirable place to work in recent years, despite some tests its corporate culture has faced. Public US work-visa data shows that Netflix, which says its pays staffers "market value," has offered six-figure annual base salaries for lots of roles in engineering, content, marketing, finance, and more.

More on Netflix's business model and company culture:

Netflix's next frontiers include advertising and gaming

Netflix is facing more competition than ever from an influx of rivals that are learning to play its game.

Nearly every major media company, from Disney to Apple to Warner Bros. Discovery, now runs a streaming service. Their platforms are stockpiled with tentpole movies and TV shows that used to only be found in theaters or on linear TV, and their libraries now rival Netflix's, particularly as they claw back programming that had been previously licensed to Netflix.

The competition is pushing the streaming giant to keep evolving.


Netflix has expanded into podcasting and started peddling merchandise for series like "Squid Game" and "The Witcher."

After announcing in spring 2022 that it would explore introducing a cheaper, ad-supporter tier to combat slowing subscriber growth, Netflix in August hired Snap executives Jeremi Gorman and Peter Naylor to lead its new ad sales business.

The ad tier launched in the US in November 2022 for $6.99 a month, a steep discount to its ad-free standard tier that costs $15.49 a month.

Some creators worried that Netflix will take fewer risks on programming in order to please advertisers, while the service has been slow to meet the scale demanded by advertisers.

The company is also bringing video games into its mobile streaming app.


It hired in July 2021 Facebook's former head of Reality Labs, Mike Verdu, as its vice president of game development, and has been hiring for other video-game-related jobs.

The streamer has approached gaming like it did movies and TV shows. It's starting slowly by commissioning and licensing mobile games, some of which are based on existing franchises like "Stranger Things." It's acquired companies to kickstart the business, and plans to experiment with other kinds of video-game storytelling, as it did with its original series.

"Maybe someday we'll see a game that spawns a film or a series," Peters told investors in July 2022. "That would be an amazing place to get to and really see the rich interplay between these sort of different forms of entertainment."

More on Netflix's advertising and gaming ambitions:

Elaine Low contributed to an earlier version of this post.